Education

Tony Blankley takes to the opinion pages of the Washington Times today, trotting out a familiar but frequently effective line of argument. We can't have universal health insurance, Blankley says, because then our system will end up looking like Britain's, where the government makes everybody wait for services and frequently denies potentially useful treatments. First the federal government would get regulatory power over insurance.

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Harold Pollack is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies. He is a regular contributor to The Treatment. For years, the medical profession has lagged only the insurers as a designated bogeyman for many who favor health reform.

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This will surprise no regular Treatment reader, I know, but President Obama is currently conducting a superb seminar on the economics of health care--and why getting health care costs under control is the key to our fiscal future.  I don't always agree with Obama on health policy. (See "Individual mandates, 2008 campaign debate.") But it's very reassuring to hear the president speak so confidently, and astutely, about the problems of our health care system.  --Jonathan Cohn 

Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachsuetts Institute of Technology, an adviser to the nation's top policy-makers on health care, and--as readers of this space know--a frequent source for expertise on The Treatment. He was an architect of the Massachusetts health reforms and now serves on the board of the Massachusetts Connector, which oversees that program.

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Diane Archer is co-president of the Health Care for All Project, which is run by the Institute for America's Future. She's also the author of a report, about the results of health reforms in Massachusetts, that I criticized a few days ago. We asked her to respond and she has. Diane is also the founder and past president of the Center for Medicare Rights, where she got a close-up look at how American health insurance works. So it's worth taking her arguments seriously.

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Ezra Klein has some thoughts on whether democracies--particularly our version--can respond effectively to economic crisis, a question I raised yesterday: Congress has been pretty pliant amidst all the rapid-fire bank bailouts and even the stimulus package. Republicans have been truculent about the stimulus, but truculence is also the luxury of the minority. If they were in the majority, they'd probably be much more constructive as they could claim credit for the recovery. Indeed, I think our political system is actually fairly well-designed for short-term crises.

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The Real Obama Revolution

"Let there be no doubt, the future belongs to the nation that best educates its children." Speaking this morning before the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the president has put into one clear sentence the fatal choice we will be making if we fail to pursue those paths that can radically improve our schools and the learning of our kids.There are no secrets about which paths those are, and Obama touched on nearly all of them.

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What Is Pork, Really?

This is why we love Mike Grunwald: A whip-smart Time piece cutting through the BS around earmarks: The point is that most Americans think of pork as waste. That's why Republicans called the stimulus bill "Porkulus," even though it had no actual earmarks. The fact that money is earmarked does not prove it is wasted, and the fact that money is not earmarked does not prove it is not wasted. This is common sense, when you think about it.

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Thursday's White House summit on health care was all about cooperation and optimism. Republicans promised to work with Democrats. Corporate lobbyists pledged to find common ground with liberal activists. If you support comprehensive reform to make health care affordable for all, it was hard to walk away without feeling enthusiastic--about both President Obama and what he's trying to do. But at least one forum participant, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, wasn't feeling so cheery. Rockefeller is no enemy of reform.

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Standing before a packed audience in the East Room, President Obama just finished his opening remarks at the White House health care forum. For the next two hours, invited attendees--members of Congress and their top staff members, plus representatives for various interest groups with a stake in health care--will participate in breakout sessions on different dimensions of the health care crisis. Afterwards, the entire group will reconvene for a larger discussion. This event, to be clear, is primarily for show.

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